Hierarchical bionanotubes formed by the self assembly of microtubules with cationic membranes or polypeptides

Uri Raviv*, Daniel J. Needleman, Kai K. Ewert, Cyrus R. Safinya

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


At present there is a surge in interest in biophysical research aimed at elucidating collective interactions between cellular proteins and associated biomolecules leading to supramolecular structures, with the ultimate goal of relating structure to function. The nerve cell cytoskeleton provides a rich example of highly ordered bundles and networks of interacting neurofilaments, microtubules and filamentous actin, where the nature of the interactions, structures and structure-function correlations remain poorly understood. We present synchrotron X-ray diffraction and electron microscopy data, in reconstituted protein systems from the bovine central nervous system, which reveal unexpected structures not predicted by current electrostatic theories. By mixing preassembled microtubules with charged membranes or polypeptides we found hierarchical bionanotubes made of microtubules coated by lipid bilayers or polypeptides, which in turn are coated with a third layer of tubulin oligomers forming rings or spirals.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)s83-s87
JournalJournal of Applied Crystallography
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Apr 2007


  • Lipids
  • Microtubule
  • Multivalent cations
  • Polypeptides
  • Tubulin
  • X-ray scattering


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